Meeting Notes: March 2017

Another good turn out for our March meeting, and another good session of heritage and history talk.

  • Heritage Renvation Issues:  We were joined by Cynthia who owns a heritage house on Semlin. More than a decade ago, she built a sunroom on her deck and made some changes to the old cottage at the foot of her yard. The City is now claiming these changes are not up to code and there is a hearing to determine what steps whe will have to take to remediate the situation. It was noted that heritage activists have for years complained that work on older but perfectly fit-for-use buildings is too expensive because the city demandss the wholoe building be brought up to code. Cynthia is hoping that her neighbours will support her cause with the city;
  • Neighbourhood Update:   Eric then presented this month’s update on physical changes to the community. This included
    • building plans for the lot at 1138 Lily which was destroyed by fire in January 2016;
    • a discussion about the continued deterioration of Brookhouse while the city delays permits for the HRA;
    • Eric reviewed the few remaining Quonset huts that survive in East Vancouver, and our expectation that they will soon be demolished;
    • A good discussion about the Crystal Dairy building, a solution to where an image of the fleet barn was taken (on Clark between 3rd and 4th), and the delivery of milk in the 1950s;
    • the ongoing development of the REACH building on the Drive, durng which it was confirmed that no social housing units are being built on the site;
    • a quick review of last months RE figures
  • The Grandview Database:   Jak reviewed the progress on entering data into the database, explained the ease with which information can be recovered, and briefly touched on the future entries to be made;
  • The Oldest House in Grandview:  The wording for the plaque to be placed at 1350 Graveley was agreed. It was also agreed we will apply for a neighbourhood grant for the plaque. The final materials for the plaque are still to be determined;
  • Upcoming Course and Lectures:   A number of upcoming events were discussed, including heritage maintenance and repair, a masonry workshop, lectures at Hycroft and from the Vancouver History Society, the Friends of Vancouver Archives AGM, and John Stuart’s presentation at the Scandinavian Cultural Society;
  • Concrete:  We ended with a short video on tips and tricks with using concrete.

Meeting Notes: January 2017

We had another great turnout for our first meeting of the year last night, and we managed to cover a great deal of ground.

  • Eric began with his regular What’s Happening in the Neighbourhood review
    • The Cultch’s Green House on Venables appears to be occupied now after an excellent program of renovation and restoration;
    • The old Bottle collection building on the corner of William and Victoria is now partially demolished and the structure can be seen as being constructed on concrete blocks;
    • It was noted that a large land assembly has been achieved at 11th & Victoria;
    • The continuing fine restoration work at 765 Victoria was noted;
    • Excavation seems to have started down at the old Iron Works;
    • The buildings at the old Bosa store at 540 Victoria, the condos opposite, and the Co-Housing development at 1st ad Victoria are all proceeding quickly;
    • the stumps for the trees removed at Grandview Park have now been ground down.
  • We discussed the potential for land assembly and development in the 1800-block westside of Commercial Drive (the Wonderbucks building) and Jak gave a brief history of the two buildings. It was agreed we should celebrate the history of the Wonderbucks building if it is threatened with demolition;
  • We reviewed the first proposal for the wording on the plaque to be placed at 1350 Graveley, site of the oldest house in Grandview. More editing required. There was also some discussion regarding grants for heritage restoration;
  • Following on from this discussion, and the fact that the house used to sit where a gas station stood for decades after, we had a long and interesting discussion about contamination in lots that were gas stations, dry cleaners, etc.;
  • After discussions with Via Tevere and acceptance of a budget of $1,025, it was agreed we will fix the Shelley’s sign. Victoria will be the artist, with assistance by Michael and Penny. The work to start when the weather settles;
  • We noted once again the continuing decline of the physical fabric at Brookhouse, 1870 Parker. There seems to be a dispute as to whether the City or the developer is causing the delays;
  • We briefly looked at the “temporary social housing” being installed at Main and Terminal;
  • We have been unable to secure a student this year from UBC Geography/History. We offered two possible topics for study (the 1979/1980 Community Plan process; and, GWAC in the 1970s) but neither were picked up. We will look for opportunities next year;
  • Neville reported on continuing developments at St Francis of Assisi and their desire to build a bigger and better school on Wilga gardens. There will be an open community meeting in the church hall, 2021 Napier, at 7pm on February 2nd;
  • It was noted that Wednesday 25th January is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Grandview Woodland Area Council;
  • Johhn raised the possibility of a federal tax incentive for retention of heritage homes. We look forward to more details later.

Update:  Re-examined research notes corrects the GWAC anniversary to Oct 25th rather than January 25th. My apologies for the error.

 

No meetings for July and August

We’ve decided to go with the flow (an aspirational word in this drought-stricken summer) and be indolent and meeting-free this summer. The next meeting will be September 17th.

In the meantime, the neighbourhood issues that are occupying the most time are the “No Venables Tower” campaign against the proposed Boffo/Kettle collaboration on the triangle lot at Commercial and Venables/Adanac. If you are opposed to it, there is a petition at http://tinyurl.com/pwd9645.

The other one we are watching is the rehabilitation and infill project at the Brookhouse Residence, 1872 Parker Street. An application to add it to the heritage register is going ahead and plans will be presented, probably later this summer, to the heritage commission.

Next meeting Thursday, May 21st, at 7 pm

As usual, we are meeting this Thursday at 7 in the boardroom of Britannia – in the building with the Information Centre just east of the library. Everyone is welcome.

Items on the agenda:

– Eric Phillips will start the meeting with his “Neighbourhood Scan” – photos and commentary about Grandview since the last meeting.

Century Signs for 2015: we will have a tentative list of houses to approach to display our signs. Penny and Michael gathered up 23 signs last week and have them cleaned and ready to go.

– Eric will present a few slides on paint-stripping techniques, just in time for the summer maintenance season.

– There may be a bit of news about Brookhouse at Parker and Victoria, which has been for sale again during the last month.

Car Free Day on June 21st: should we have a table as we’ve had the last few years?

– Michael Kluckner will give a brief update on the progress of the city’s Heritage Action Plan.

– and, probably, some new business …

Notes To January Meeting

We had another full house for our monthly meeting on Thursday, and it was an interesting one.

  • Eric Phillips continued his marvelous Mechanicals and Materials series, this time with a lively discussion of what and how to keep records of your house. Using his own home as an example, he talked about property records, such as building permits, ownership and residency changes, and making an inventory of building components, such as mouldings, tiles, fireplaces, original paint colours and wallpaper designs, etc. He went on to explain the value of documenting, with images preferably, renovations made, including discoveries exposed during such renovations. He closed with ideas for maintaining these records in what he thought could be a House Manual.
  • We then discussed changes in various buildings around the neighbourhood including Brookhouse (becoming ever more derelict), Rob Wynen’s old house (in which the interior has been gutted, and the Brandon Block in the 1700-block of Commercial Drive where building/renovation work in the basement and the upstairs apartments is ongoing. The impending sale of both the Odlin Block in the 1600-block and 2064 Commercial were mentioned. The latter is being sold with the assumption that the 1945 building will be demolished.
  • Michael Kluckner led a very informative discussion on how heritage buildings are evaluated in Canada, in general, and in Vancouver in particular.  He went through the creation of Statements of Significance and how those documents are evaluated and edited, and he also explained in detail the scoring system used to give buildings an A, B, or C in Vancouver’s Register.  He closed by discussing current efforts to formalize building descriptions, mainly through roof styles.
  • It was noted that the deadline for applications for the City of Vancouver Heritage Awards is 2nd February.
  • Penny Street circulated the old photographs that Ron Segev found within the walls during renovation of his house at 1746 E. 3rd.
  • We briefly noted that our heritage plaque at Via Tevere has essentally disappeared through reaction with elements in the atmosphere.  We will endeavour to find a more permanent replacement.
  • Finally, we briefly discussed another intervention on behalf of Grandview heritage into the still-ongoing Community Plan process.  Jak will circulate the 2012 document that we sent to the City in advance of the Plan.
  • Our next meeting will be on the third Thursday of February in the Britannia Boardroom at 7pm.

Notes From Our October Meeting

We had another fine turn-out for our October meeting, with some new and welcome faces.

  • We began by discussing the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhood’s all-candidates meeting.  The candidates’ responses re: the Heritage Action Plan were discussed.  It was also noted that all parties other than Vision had stated their opposition to the current Grandview Community Plan process.
  • The GHG presentation (by Penny and Brice) to the Community Plan’s Citizens’ Assembly on 4th October was briefly discussed.  The CA’s next meeting is on 25th October.
  • The sale of 2185 E. 5th was next up. With an asking price of about $1.6m, it was finally sold for over $1.9m, to a developer.  We understand he will probably do an HRA with infill, similar to Jeffs Residence. We will approach the realtor for a discussion of this and similar sales.
  • Next on the agenda was Brookhouse, 1872 Parker.  This is still sitting, apparently unoccupied but with the occasional light to be seen at night. There is no fresh news but, a couple of weeks ago, James Evans suggested that perhaps the current owner was realising his asking price is too high. So, maybe there is a still a hope for a sale to someone like James and then an HRA.
  • The history of the Howe House at Lakewood & Kitchener, and our method of tackling the mystery through directories, building permits, and censuses, was described. The family was tracked from a hotel in the West End at the turn of the century to Lakewood in the 1910s, and to a farm Langley in the 1920s.
  • Bruce Macdonald presented a first cut of his new 40-minute presentation work that describes the history of Grandview in terms that are specifically designed to be useful for considering the future of our neighbourhood. Very good conversation ensued.
  • One particular point that Bruce raises is that Grandview has been cut off from its sea shore, and very recently too.  There was general agreement that we need to regain that shore in some way despite the heightened security at the Port.
  • It was noted that the next GWAC Meeting, on Monday 3rd November at Astorino’s, will be a presentation of changes to Commercial Drive from a bike-lobby group.
  • Finally, we reviewed a request from Prof. David Brownstein for us to take another of his students to perform a project this year.  Last year’s exercise did not go particularly well, but we discussed a limited-focus idea about corner stores in Grandview.  This idea will be discussed further with Prof. Brownstein.

So good, so stimulating to meet with these folks every month.  Come join us!

Meeting Notes: March

We had about twenty people at our meeting last night, with a couple of new visitors.  I don’t think anyone was disappointed with all that we managed to cover in a couple of hours.

  • Michael Kluckner gave a detailed and excellent illustrated talk that led us through the history of heritage legislation and regulation in Vancouver, starting with the first Heritage By-law (which has its 40th anniversary this year), which was a result of the controversial Birks Building demolition. He then segued into a review of the various housing styles that we can find in Grandview, focusing on the change from a front porch-based culture to one that prefers more privacy in backyards and courtyards.
  • Michael’s talk was by way of a primer for our 2014 Centenary House signs project walk on Sunday.  We will meet at the Britannia library at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday 23rd March.  We will cover the area west and south of Britannia.  Everyone is welcome to join us.
  • We noted that Stephanie Chang, the UBC Historical Geography (GEOG 429) student who has been wortking with us, will present her paper next Tuesday.  Michael and Jak are planning to go.
  • We discussed the situation regarding Brookhouse, 1872 Parker. The news does not seem good, and we may well lose this house to demolition very soon.
  • The meeting that several of us had with the Agnew family was described, and led to an interesting discussion about the value of family papers and photographs.
  • Jak and Bruce described the $25,000 New Horizons grant that has now been received and is to be managed by VCN.  The purpose of the project is to collect as many seniors’ stories as we can.  Interviews should begin in April.
  • Last, and certainly not least, Eric Phillips gave us a teaser about the new edition of his series, Heritage Mechanicals and Materials, that he will present at our meeting next month.  The subject is Glass.  He brought along a number of examples of stained glass and beveled plate, and then encouraged our attendance next month with some fascinating illustrations about the history of glass.

Another great meeting; I think we are really getting into our stride now.

Next Meeting: Thursday 3/20

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is this coming Thursday, 20th March, at 7:00pm at the Britannia Board Room.  The agenda at this point includes:

  • Report on our student intern’s work on Woodland Park area history
  • Michael Kluckner presentation:  “H is for Heritage”
  • Sunday’s walk (see below)
  • Update on 1872 Parker Street
  • Visit with the Agnew Family
  • Teaser for Eric on Glass

Michael’s presentation is a lead up to our 2014 Centenary Signs walk on Sunday.  We will be meeting outside the Britannia Library at 9:30am and we will be exploring the area west of Britannia to Clark and north to Venables.  Please join us on Sunday even if you can’t make Thursday’s meeting!

Meeting Notes: February

We had another excellent meeting last night, with some new people joining us for the first time. I think they had a good tme.  Our discussions included:

  • the Green House next to the Cultch.  Michael reviewed the history of our involvement and our desire to see the building renovated rather than demolished. It was noted that the City retains responsibility for the maintenance of the structure.  Given Clr. Heather Deal’s statement last month that the City would like to see a solution that retains the building, it was agreed that MK will draft a letter to Brian Jackson, James Boldt and others confirming our interest in ensuring the building’s survival.
  • Brookhouse — further to last month’s exciting news that our friend and colleague James Evans might be interested in saving this building in a manner similar to what he did with the Jeffs Residence, it was learned that he is still in negotiations with the current owner.  It was agreed that we would give him political backing by writing another letter to the City opposing any application to demolish the building.
  • 2014 Centenary Signs — It was agree that the next exploratory walk to find houses for this year’s celebration will take place at 10:00am on Saturday 15th March (or in the event of rain, on Sunday 16th).  A small working group will meet in advance to plan routes etc.
  • Scott’s Grocery — Blair advised us that Scott’s Grocery on Victoria is about to close.  It will cease operation at the end of this month and the building has been sold to a developer who, apparently, wants to put an apartment building on the small lot. We discussed the history of attempted “block-busiting” on both sides of that block.  It was also noted that the current zoning on Scott’s lot is RM4 and therefore a small apartment building would likely be within regulations. We discussed the history of Scott’s building (1920s) and the other corner stores (now all gone) in the neighbourhood. MK will inquire at the Heritage Commission meeting on Monday if there is any support for saving the streetscape on that block.  We also discussed the possibility of a project looking at the history of the various corner stores.
  • Astorino’s — No further developments to report.
  • Student Intern Project — No further developments to report. We hope to hear back from her soon.
  • Note was taken of two upcoming events:
    • 24th February: Meeting of the Commercial Drive Action Group at Britannia Boardroom at 7:00pm to discuss the future of Commercial Drive.  Seems like this might be mostly about bike lanes.
    • 6th March: Heritage Vancouver meeting at 938 Howe to discuss heritage in the context of the current Community Plans.
  • We finished the evening in high style with another in Eric’s Heritage Mechanics and Materials series of illustrated talks.  This was Part 2 of Home Heating.  After reviewing the various fuel types he had discussed at last month’s meeting, Eric took us on a tour of fireplaces, kitchen stoves, parlour stoves, various furnaces, steam and hot water systems, radiators, kerosene heaters and various furnace and radiator control systems.  Marvelous stuff that included the observation that the introduction of furnaces had a profound effect on building design as a basement (often a raised basement in Vancouver) was a requirement for the furnace and fuel supplies.

 

January Meeting Notes

My apologies for the delay in posting these notes;  it has been a very busy week!

Last Thursday we had a really productive meeting, covering a wide range of current and ongoing issues:

  • We were joined by Vancouver City Clr. Heather Deal for the first hour.  She took us through the City’s new Heritage Action Plan‘s 14 points in good detail. The Plan appears to cover everything from tightening up demolition permits to reducing the complexity of HRAs, updating the Heritage Register and changing the building code to ease heritage renovation.
  • The conversation after the presentation was equally useful: some speakers noted that highly inflated property values in Vancouver were damaging heritage retention; that cultural mapping in the Heritage Register should be separate from architectural mapping; that just a few thousand dollars in grants could return many of the Edwardian ornamentation that flourished on the Drive; that groups like ours should be able to nominate for the Register; that fees collected for HRAs etc should be maintained for heritage uses rather than disappear into general revenue.
  • Three specific issues were raised with Clr. Deal:  (a) 1872 Parker, the Brockhouse, needs to be saved from imminent demolition.  James Evans, who developed the Jeffs Residences and who was in attendance, confirmed that he was in discussions with the current owners.  However, there were still issues to be solved before he can move in to save the property.  This was greeted with excitement by the group.
  • (b) The Green House next to the Cultch on Venables which Heather Redfern has stated is to be demolished.  Clr. Deal stated that the City wants to save the building and they would be working to that end.
  • (c) Astorino’s.  The Group stressed the cultural importance of the building which is slated to be lost in the Boffo redevelopment.  It was also noted that this is now an active performance space. Clr. Deal promised to review the situation.
  • Clr. Deal had to leave the meeting after an hour, but it was generally agreed this had been a very useful conversation.
  • We discussed the work that our intern, Stephanie Chang, a Geog 429 student, is working on.  She is working with us to create a social and cultural portrait of the area around Woodland Park.  She has to complete the project for presentation in April.
  • Kristen Moran gave a short presentation on her extended video about heritage in Grandview.  She was looking for more heritage homeowners to be a part of the video, and she received a great many names from those attending the meeting.
  • Penny gave an update on the Centenary Signs Project.  All the 2013 signs have now been collected and are being cleaned.  We will continue the survey for 2014 targets in March when the weather improves.
  • Finally, we had another episode in Eric Phillips’ magnificent Mechanicals and Materials series.  This part was on heritage home heating systems.  Eric took us on an illustrated trip through various fuel types — wood, coal, coke, sawdust, oil and gas.  Fascinating stuff.  Next month we will continue this part, looking at fireplaces, boilers and other systems.